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My Journey with Prostate Cancer

I Am a Survivor!

By Rick Henry Christopher Published 12 months ago 6 min read
Top Story - June 2023
48
My Journey with Prostate Cancer
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

What is the Prostate's Function

This writing is of a personal yet important nature.

One of the smallest yet important parts of a man's body is called the prostate. On average the prostate (which most of us don't think about often unless problems arise) is about the size of a walnut. However, it can swell up to the size of a tennis ball if it's not functioning properly - this can cause a lot of problems, pain, and illness.

What is the prostate's function? The official description found on the National Library of Medicine website is as follows:

"The prostate's most important function is the production of a fluid that, together with sperm cells from the testicles and fluids from other glands, makes up semen. The muscles of the prostate also ensure that the semen is forcefully pressed into the urethra and then expelled outwards during ejaculation."

This small part of the male body is a powerful tool which if all is functioning properly is part of the baby making process.

What is an Enlarged Prostate and What Causes It?

An enlarged prostate is caused mostly from aging. As we age the prostate grows and grows. This aging process begins around the age of 25 and continues for the rest of the man's life.

As the prostate grows a man may experience some of the following symptoms:

● Finding it difficult to start peeing.

● Straining to pee.

● Having a weak flow of urine.

● "Stop-start" peeing.

● Peeing urgently and/or frequently.

● Getting up frequently in the night to pee.

● Accidentally leaking urine (urinary incontinence)

With time an enlarged prostate will cause pain in the groin system. The pain will range anywhere from mild to excruciating.

What Do I Do If I Suspect That My Prostate is Enlarged?

The very first thing you should do is call your doctor for testing.

There are a few methods for testing the growth of your prostate. One is a digital rectal exam. That is a method which many men seem not to like. It is often referred to as the two fingers method.

Another test is a biopsy. Believe me you do not want to be on this biopsy table. I've been on that table, and I hated it. It's almost like a form of torture. But we will expand on this a little further into the article.

Depending on the severity of the enlarged prostate the treatment can be anything from keeping an eye on it to medication or in some cases surgery.

Prostate Cancer??? 😳😳😳

Most people do not like the word cancer or the idea of any form of cancer living in their body. But prostate cancer can be treated and, in many cases, killed off.

Before we go deeper into prostate cancer, please understand that an enlarged prostate does not mean you have prostate cancer. Also, an enlarged prostate does not increase your chances of having prostate cancer. However, one of the symptoms of prostate cancer is an enlarged prostate.

Testing for Prostate Cancer

Generally, the initial testing for Prostate cancer is a simple PSA test.

The PSA test is a blood test to determine the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is in the blood.

The PSA test is generally ordered by your primary care physician. If the PSA level is 4% or higher the doctor will recommend the next step which is to see a Urologist for a biopsy. (Sidenote: My PSA level was 4.6%)

Once you are in the biopsy room the first thing you do is remove your pants and under garments then lie on the table on your side with your knees pulled up to your chest.

Next the Urologist will insert an ultrasound probe into your rectum. This is not painful. The images of the prostate will help the doctor to determine which areas need to be numbed and prepped for the biopsy procedure.

The biopsy was the worst part of the procedure for me. The spring-loaded biopsy gun quickly projects a thin needle into the prostate to extract tissue samples.

You will feel a bit of discomfort as the needle hits your prostate. But the worst part is the loud snapping sound you hear just before the needle hits. Psychologically the snapping sound makes the stinging of the needle seem much worse than it is. Twelve samples are collected so you have twelve horrendous snapping sounds and twelve stinging stabs from the needle.

The Results and The Treatment

After the biopsy is completed, you must wait for ten grueling days until you get your results.

The next step depends on your results. My results showed that four of the samples had small amounts of cancer cells in them.

Since the amount of cancer was relatively small, I had three options on the table. The first was Active Surveillance. Active surveillance may be an option for cancer that isn't causing symptoms, is expected to grow very slow and is confined to a small area of the prostate.

In active surveillance, regular follow-up blood tests, rectal exams and prostate biopsies may be performed to monitor the progression of your cancer. If tests show your cancer is progressing, you may opt for a prostate cancer treatment such as surgery or radiation.

Although the cancer that was found in my prostate was a small non-aggressive amount, I chose not to do the Active Surveillance. I made this decision because I thought; why would I want to postpone the inevitable? Why would I want to wait and let the cancer grow?

I moved on to deciding whether I want to do surgery and have the prostate removed or do radiation treatments.

I joined a prostate cancer support group on Facebook, and this was instrumental in helping me decide what to do.

The urologist referred me to a radiologist so I could become informed on radiation treatment.

After listening to the urologist and reading through the Prostate Support group I made my decision as to what I was going to do about this very personal matter.

The one thing I noticed about the guys in the support group is that almost every single one of them that had the surgery had complications with the recovery. With time the cancer came back to almost every single one of them and they ended up getting radiation treatments to kill off the recurring cancer.

My thoughts were that if I have my prostate removed and the cancer comes back, I will end up doing radiation treatments. Plus, the radiation treatments have a much lower risk of recurrence. So why not skip all the issues that come with surgery and just do the radiation.

One of the guys that had the surgery said that if I do the radiation treatment and the cancer comes back then it will be difficult to remove the prostate.

I asked the radiologist about this. He politely laughed about this and said if the cancer comes back surgery will not be an option. You would go through another series of radiation treatments. He assured me though that with the small amount of cancer I have the chances of it coming back are highly unlikely.

As of June 2023, it has been two years and nine months since I completed the radiation treatments.

The treatments were non-evasive, and the pain was minimal. The recovery period was also minimal. I still get minor swelling in the groin area. But there are medications which treat the swelling quite effectively.

On my last PSA test my result was .45% which is less than ½ of 1%. I am treading in the zero percent cancer zone.

For myself I feel I made the right decision in getting the radiation treatments. But this is a very difficult and personal decision for a guy to make and each person's decision is the right decision. You must go with what your gut tells you.

If anybody has any further questions or needs a mentor or someone to talk with, please message me on Facebook messenger. I am here for you. Here's the URL to my messenger account: https://m.me/rick.henry.104

Men's PerspectivesLifestyleIssuesInspirationHealthEmpowermentBrotherhood
48

About the Creator

Rick Henry Christopher

Writing is a distraction to fulfill my need for intellectual stimulus, emotional release, and soothing the bruises of the day.

The shattered pieces of life will not discourage me.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/vocalplusassist

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Comments (31)

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  • Test5 months ago

    I'm so glad you're well Rick. This must have been so scary. The information in this is so important. Well done.

  • Test5 months ago

    What a terryfying decision to be faced with. Such a heart felt, informative piece and so glad you are well 🤍

  • True Crime Writer12 months ago

    Thank you for kicking cancer in the gonads and sharing this extremely important information with the Vocal community. Here's to many more happy health outcomes for you in the future!!!

  • Leslie Writes12 months ago

    So glad your treatment was successful! Thank you for sharing this info so that men and their loved ones know what to look out for.

  • Whoaaa 12 samples is a lot! Also, congratulations for kicking cancer's ass and for your Top Story!

  • Brenton F12 months ago

    Brilliant article touching on a subject that is not spoken about much!

  • Man Thanks So much For This Wonderful Article and I just wanted to say you are Such a Blessing to many people Rick❤️📝💯❗ Also Congratulations on your Top Story🎉🎉

  • Tiffany Gordon 12 months ago

    Excellent article Rick! Very informative piece! I learned a lot! great work! I'm so glad that you're better! God bless you always my friend!

  • MARIE ODEMS 12 months ago

    BLESS YOU CONGRATULATIONS ON THE TOP WIN!!!

  • Novel Allen12 months ago

    I kind of closed my eyes on some sections. But I got it. I remember when my father had it. He was healthy his entire life, Then that came. he got over it though. A friend in Canada is touting a form of light therapy that induces the body to produce stem cells which helps to heal the body fast. I am about to try it myself, though skeptical about messing with the natural processes of the body. There are treatments popping up everywhere. I am glad you are feeling better.

  • Aiden Bliski12 months ago

    Personal text, but the topic is very important, thank you.

  • Great information, presented clearly & articulately. Thanks, Rick.

  • JBaz12 months ago

    So glad you wrote this article. I may make other men decide to do the check up and perhaps save a life, or at the very least a lot of discomfort. Great story my friend. Congratulations

  • Dana Stewart12 months ago

    Such a thoughtful well-written piece so that you can encourage others to get checked. Here’s to many years of good heath and. Congratulations on Top Story, Rick.

  • Oh yeah...Congratulations on your Top Story!

  • I certainly learned a lot. And there are many aspects I can use to help when I am speaking with male clients seeking natural alternatives. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  • Lamar Wiggins12 months ago

    This is a wealth of knowledge and an amazing survival story. Thank you so so much for sharing this. 💖💖💖

  • Gal Mux12 months ago

    I'm sorry about the pain and difficulty you are and went through. This was a very informative story. Thanks for sharing and I wish you a full recovery.

  • Thank you for writing this. I am older now I really need to get my prostate checked just to be safe. Thanks for the motivation to get going

  • Gary Ragnarsson12 months ago

    Excellent article, and very sobering. I have long had concerns over my prostate, but the invasiveness of testing and potentially a little bit of fear has kept me from finding out. I’m glad you’ve shared you story with others, and are safely out the other end!

  • Naomi Gold12 months ago

    I’m so glad your treatments worked out well for you, and that you shared something personal and informative. I wish you continued health. Congrats on Top Story in the new community for Men. 🥂🥳

  • Gerald Holmes12 months ago

    Excellent article Rick. very informative.

  • Shane Dobbie12 months ago

    My dad got this late in life (sadly it was the least of his problems) so this is a timely reminder to get checked myself.

  • Loryne Andawey12 months ago

    Wow! This was such an enlightening article. Your description of what happens on the biopsy table had me wincing. I applaude you and I congratulate you on your successful bout against cancer. Side note: First story in Men! Congratulations!

  • Laura James12 months ago

    My husband had prostrate cancer. He went through the same treatments. He was told it’s slow growing and he could wait or get radiation treatments. He did end up with side effects from the final radiation treatment. He believes they over did it on the last blast of radiation. He was very uncomfortable and in pain after his last radiation treatment and didn’t get over it for several months. It was difficult for a while. I heard a lecture about prostate cancer from a medical expert who knew the statistics years ago. He said that if every man lived long enough, they can get prostate cancer. But, so far, 1 in 2 men are eventually diagnosed with it. The good news is that there’s a 97% non reoccurrence rate when detected on time and treated effectively. So, prostrate exams are a must. Just like men hate those exams, women hate breast cancer exams. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes painful. It feels like someone is squeezing cold flat plates onto your breast like you’re a tiny insect getting a part of your body squished by the heel of a giant’s shoe. But, until we have non invasive tests, we have to get these necessary exams, because it’s a small price to pay to save our lives and to stick around for our family and friends.

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